Andi Winter

Writer, Reader, Tea Drinker, Chrononaut

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On overestimating one’s abilities

How I'm feeling -- sleepy

How I’m feeling

I guess I’m a more optimistic person than I realized. For some reason, I thought that I really could Do It All: write everyday for Writing Practice Month, have oral surgery, keep a clean house, continue making progress on the indie publishing. Sure, I figured I would probably move a little slower than my standard Mach 3, but it wouldn’t make that much of a difference.


Ha ha ha.

Yeah, I’m pretty funny*. Instead, what happened was that my body (and I think my mind, and perhaps my soul) said, “You know what? We’ve been running so hard for so long now, doing everything you’ve demanded of us, and now you go and get yourself cut up? Well, fine. Then we are going on strike! We need a vacation, and it’s not like you have a choice in the matter. So there!”

Whatever motivation I had for my projects, and even just general Life Maintenance, went soaring out the window and landed with an audible thud on the pavement. There was even a large splat of good intentions smeared into the sidewalk cracks.

Everything inside of me just cries for rest. Apparently “rest” takes the form of naps, chick flick viewing, chick lit reading, and the occasional mosey in fresh air. Multi-tasking? Forget about it. The closest I get to that is eating** soup*** while watching TV.

So I’m getting the message from the universe: Take it slow and easy. One day at a time. And it’s okay to have ambitions, but just work on them in little bits. Think “marathon,” not “sprint”.

I don’t know how many times I have seen those written down, but it certainly feels like they are starting to wear into my bones.



*If by “funny” I mean “grossly overambitious” or perhaps “deluded”.

**Does one “eat” soup? Isn’t it more like “drinking”? Or is it more a matter of the soup’s thickness? Say, with a thick potato soup or split pea soup, those I think take some effort, so you eat them. Thinner soups or consommes, where it’s easier to consume it by tipping the bowl into your mouth should be a matter of drinking. But what about chicken noodle soup, or ramen, where you’re half and half—you eat the noodles, but drink the liquid. See? This is just another example of my brain being on strike.

**Fun fact: Your body wants a variety of textures when dining. I will just say that eating soft mushy foods for a week gets incredibly boring. God, I miss pizza. And chips.

Lessons from a gum graft

Day 7

So I had gum graft surgery, and life is returning to a new normal. This means eating foods from a blender, trying not to make any facial expressions, and not talking. I hadn’t realized how much I talked until I couldn’t.

Some things I’ve learned as a result of the surgery:

  1. Don’t think and/or worry about things you cannot control.
  2. It’s okay to let others take care of you and help out.
  3. Just focusing on this moment is a Fine Thing.
  4. The blender is a blessed tool. And is not just for frozen mixed drinks.
  5. Sometimes you just need to take the day off and do nothing. And that’s okay.

As for writing, I did my fifteen minutes today, not expecting much to come of it. However, I got some ideas for a creativity project which I can use, so I’ll call that good.

As with everything it seems, it’s all about small moves. Very small moves.

And so it begins

Day 6

Tomorrow I go under the dentist knife (literally), which I’ve been dreading for years. Well, time to put on the big girl panties and do the Adulting thing, which I’ve come to understand as “things you do so life doesn’t suck even worse in the future”.  Things like retirement accounts, house repairs, and now gum grafts. Meh.

Spent my fifteen minutes of writing time going over what I’ve written so far with this new story, and found a number of Easter Eggs*, which has me tingly with excitement**. You would think that I would remember what I had written (it’s only been a week), but I seem to only recall the Big Things like major plot points, and not the nifty details that create the World and assorted Conflicts. So yeah, found some nifty stuff that I’m pretty pleased about.

As for the daily Writing Practice Month challenge, well, at this point I’m not even planning to try to write over the next few days. With any luck***, I’ll be back at the writing table next week.



*Like the “Easter eggs” in DVDs or video games—hidden cool things that the creators put in that you hunt for. Only in this case, Muse has kindly dropped them for me to find. Muse is awesome.

**Or maybe that’s the surgery anticipation.

***Luck = minimal lingering pain. My fingers are crossed!

Even littler steps

Day 5

Got ten minutes of writing in, which is a fine thing given the chaos that was today. Tomorrow looks like it should be a bit calmer, thankfully.

On the book recommendation side, the graphic novel Rolling Blackouts by Sarah Glidden is a fascinating look at one person’s experience in Turkey, Syria, and Iraq in 2010, as she traveled with independent journalist friends interviewing Iraqi refugees.

Time to get some sleep.

Little steps

Day 4

Got the fifteen minutes in and 359 words. Nothing exciting, but felt a little like playing, which is a good thing. It’s also a decent distraction from the upcoming Dental Havoc (a nice bonus). I’m doing what I can to stay in the moment (“How am I feeling right now?” “Can I focus on what’s in front of me, and not think about the upcoming potential Heaping Helpings of Pain?”), and performing multiple recitations of the Bene Gesserit litany against fear:

I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.

Okay, so it’s a bit dramatic, but it feels reassuring to say.

Sometimes the old ways are the best ways

Day 3

I had (mild) intentions of getting fifteen minutes of writing in yesterday (3/4), but housework and socializing were higher priorities. That, and resting and watching more 1990’s comedies (that Dharma is such a sweetheart!). What was it the immoderate Greeks said about moderation*?

Anyway, I’ve been frustrated at the slowness of writing the past few days, and realized part of that was due to 1) writing by hand and 2) constantly doubting myself and overthinking**. If the new ways aren’t working, maybe it’s time to try the old ways. So I sat down for 15 minutes with Writemonkey*** with a 250 word goal and started writing. I came up for air after 25 minutes and discovered that I had written 648 words. Much better! Now I have something to work with, and I wrote at a reasonable enough pace that the words aren’t a complete crazy jumbled mess (i.e. shouldn’t require editing). Hurrah!

Which brings us back to the concept of using whatever works. The key being: it has to work.


*”Everything in moderation.” I’m not sure which Greek said it, though.

**And this due to trying Dean Wesley Smith’s recommended “pantsing with class” writing method (he calls it “Writing into the Dark”), where you write without a premade outline and write the first draft like it’s the only draft—none of this “fix it in post/rewrite it later” nonsense. At the same time, he recommends not seeing one’s words as precious, and to keep practicing. So yeah, I was perhaps fretting too much about my words being good enough for a final draft.

***I really loves me the Writemonkey. <3

Is this progress?

Day 2

Got my fifteen minutes of writing time in, and managed again around maybe 100 words. This feels incredibly slow, since I tend to average closer to 300 words in that time period (even 500 when I’m hot). I feel like I have so many questions that I want to resolve before I can go any further with the story, and with that, constant self-doubt: where do I want this story to go? Who are these characters? Where is this story even taking place—is this historical, fantasy, sci-fi?

Of course, it’s not like two paragraphs should be causing such confusion. Like a lot of times, I think I’m overthinking it.


So, it’s going slowly, but hey! Two days in a row of putting new words down. Gotta start somewhere.

And in other news, I watched a bit of “The Voice” last night on TV. Apparently I’ve been missing out!

It’s a start

Day 1

After trying four—count ’em FOUR—different story starter techniques, and spending entirely too much time on them, and just not feeling excited, interested, or even remotely positive about any of them, and then scribbling in my notebook “Or maybe I should just f*@#ing write?”, I saw in my mind’s eye a young woman sitting under a large tree on a hillside with a journal on her lap.

Um, okay.

So I spent the next fifteen minutes writing about her and what she was thinking and feeling.

Honestly? The writing felt pretty good, and I didn’t want to stop.

Hmm. There may be something to this radical concept of JUST WRITE.


We’ll see how this goes.


March is Writing Practice Month

“Make writing your practice . . . If you commit to it, it will take you deeper than Zen.” -Katagiri-roshi

calligraphy brushes

Back in May, I made a point of Mini Art Month, where I challenged myself to make some form of art (no matter how small) every day. I was having problems with facing the page (aka FEAR), so in typical fashion, I procrastinated. “I can get to that later. I’ll have time this afternoon. Or this evening. No problem!” However, even with the best of intentions, I wouldn’t get to it: I was too tired, too hungry, too bothered by kitchen disaster that called for FEMA (or at least a Haz Mat team), too distracted (Ooh! Mail!).

Since procrastination had not exactly been working as a fantastic productivity technique, I came up with a monthly challenge. The end result: I discovered that writing is my art/practice, that tiny, easily achievable goals are helpful, and that having a structure (daily practice) is hugely important. I felt like I had taken a good step forward with developing an art habit.

Then November was National Novel Writing Month, and I thought “This will get me writing every day!” And it did, only this time because there was a deadline (50,000 words by Nov. 30) and because there is no way to cram for that metaphorical exam. I finished the novel (and even had my first truly immersive experience in one of my fictional worlds) and felt like I had conquered my writing fears—after all, I blogged it! I was good to go!

Then there were the holidays, and snow, and more snow, and all the chaos that ensues in the Portland metro area when there is snow, and then the New Year, and more snow, and Life happened.

Somewhere in the midst of that, I managed to get the print edition of my forthcoming flash fiction collection finalized, most of the digital edition finished (so close!), finished & edited a novella, and wrote a novelette*. I guess that’s not bad in the grand scheme of things, but I’ve been feeling like I’m just not making any progress, and I have definitely not been writing every day. And since writing is what keeps me somewhat sane (that, and copious amounts of Tension Tamer Tea** and episodes of 1990’s TV comedies), it’s time to deal with that.

Since I apparently can’t retain previously learned lessons, I am making March “Writing Practice Month”. Which means writing*** every day for a minimum of 15 minutes, and the only requirement for success is to sit. At the ‘puter. For 15 minutes. Even if there are no new words written. Just showing up is all that matters.****

With that said, I will sit and post here daily***** (barring acts of Dental Gods, harrumph******).

This seems ridiculous to me, since I do manage to write, have written, and thought I had proved this to myself before. But, as I am slowly coming to understand, this is a neverending War with Fear.

So I say screw the Fear and do it anyway. The benefits way outweigh the doubts and fears.

To March!


*Novella = 17,500-40,000 words; Novelette = 7,500-17,500 words. At least according to Wikipedia.

**Celestial Seasonings’ Tension Tamer Tea is a wondrous thing. Truly. It’s the best of the ‘calm down and chill the f@#! out’ teas I’ve tried. And I’ve tried a lot.

***Writing = putting new words down, preferably for a story, but non-fiction is fine, too.

****The first step to make any activity a habit. Gail Sher and a whole host of others recommend it, which is good enough for me.

*****Do or do not; there is no try. I was going to say “try to sit and post here daily” but Yoda’s voice echoes in my head. It starts to grate after awhile.

******Ah, the Dental Gods. At long last they will wreak their havoc with me, but I shall persevere and thrive. Especially with the aid of modern pharmaceuticals.

4 bullets to dodge

On my mind lately is this quote from Tim Ferriss’ Tools of Titans by Dr. Peter Attia:

If you’re over 40 and don’t smoke, there’s about a 70 to 80% chance you’ll die from one of four diseases: heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, cancer, or neurodegenerative disease.

The good doctor has done research at the National Cancer Institute on the role of regulatory T cells in cancer regression and other immune-based therapies for cancer. Oh, and he is a former ultra-endurance athlete, and got his MD from Stanford University, and his BSc in mechanical engineering and applied mathematics from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. All of which to say is, he knows his stuff.

So to increase the chances of not dying from those four diseases, he suggests:

  • Eat healthy, exercise (high-intensity, heavy strength training) (for Heart Disease)
  • Eat healthy, exercise (high-intensity, heavy strength training), meditate (for Cerebrovascular Disease, aka stroke)
  • Avoid highly refined carbohydrates and sugars, fast once a week (one primary meal between a two hour window) (for Cancer)
  • Take low-dose lithium (below 150 mg) and meditate (for Neurodegenerative Disease, with Alzheimer’s dementia being one of the top ten causes of death in the U.S.)

The doctor argues that if you’ve made it to 40 years old, you’ve managed to not get hit by a car or do something really stupid to kill yourself. Now, it’s a matter of doing the work to be able to live long(er) and healthy.

Which apparently means eating less junk food, exercising more, fasting, meditating, and considering low-dose lithium.

Some things to think about.

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